Complaints over drug use and criminal infiltration sent to Garda anti-corruption unit

New bureau announces focus on halting abuses of position by members of force

Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin and Chief Supt Jo O’Leary at the launch of the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit and the introduction of associated policies at Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin and Chief Supt Jo O’Leary at the launch of the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit and the introduction of associated policies at Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Allegations of drug use by gardaí and accusations that organised criminals may have tried to infiltrate the force were among the first complaints received by the Garda’s new Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Chief Supt Johanna O’Leary said “some complaints” alleging Garda corruption had already been received, but that only a “small number” were on hand.

“There are some around drug taking,” she said of the complaints received.

“There are some where there might be infiltration from organised crime groups.”

When asked if it was investigating the infiltration of the force by organised criminals, Chief Supt O’Leary, who heads the bureau, said: “Not as such, but a complaint around that.”

The bureau, plans for which were announced by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris two years ago, on Tuesday outlined its official policies in two areas - drug use by gardaí and “professional boundaries and abuse of power for sexual gain”.

These are effectively the areas the bureau, which started operating in November, has decided to examine first, with more policies due to be announced soon.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin said he believed there was support within the Garda ranks for steps being taken to address drug taking or improper relationships involving members.

“There’s no place in our organisation for people who take advantage of vulnerable victims, and in that sense, who victimise a victim for a second time,” he said.

Imbalance of power

The policy relating to abuse of power for sexual gain states that an “imbalance of power” was likely to arise between gardaí and some people they dealt with, some of whom would be in vulnerable situations.

It says boundaries must be maintained by gardaí in order to “limit physical and emotional relationships” they have with the public.

The policy states any abuse of a Garda’s power over a person “for sexual gain… or to establish a relationship beyond a professional capacity may constitute an abuse of authority that will not be tolerated”. Acting in such a manner risked breaching the public’s trust in the force, it states.

The policy in relation to gardaí taking drugs states that drug testing would be implemented in the force within six months in an an attempt to bid to identify such cases, which would “not be tolerated”. It says drug testing would in future form part of the Garda recruitment process for “all” posts.

“The misuse of controlled drugs has the potential to impair judgement and any Garda personnel involved in the misuse of controlled drugs exposes themselves to vulnerability in terms of corruption and blackmail,” the policy states.

Other policies being developed by the bureau centre on possible conflicts of interest Garda members may have, and business interests or secondary occupations that gardaí might be involved in.

Integrity

Chief Supt O’Leary said the bureau would work to “enhance professional integrity” and would react to allegations or suspicions that were reported. It would also be pro-active in checking for corruption in all its forms, she said.

The Garda has formulated a wide-ranging definition of corruption, which goes much further than financial gain, material rewards or gaining any advantage.

Corruption is defined as “the abuse of a position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage”. It also includes “the abuse of power by an individual for private and/or organisational gain, favour, advancement or reward”.

The Garda’s definition of corruption also covers any actions that are “inconsistent with the proper practice of an individual’s office, employment or responsibilities” even if those actions are not motivated by seeking reward, advancement or favour.